22 February 2005

The chances of getting a cheap Fiat are numbered. After struggling to sell fewer than 75,000 cars last year, the UK business arm of Italy’s biggest car maker is reportedly ramping back its sales targets, which means an end to the numerous fleet deals that saw so many Fiats emerging on the second-hand market for incredible prices.

This year Fiat hopes to sell a more modest 45,000 cars and in doing so will give its dealers a chance of making a profit and keep better control on residual values. This means current deals, by which a second-hand current-model Stilo (above) can be had for as little as £3000 and a Punto (right) for just £2000, will begin drying up.

At the moment, it doesn’t take long to turn up a bargain Fiat. The classified adverts are packed with examples, and the first we found was an ’02-plated 1.2-litre Punto three-door with 37,000 miles on the clock, advertised for just £1950. We also found an X-registered Punto diesel for under £2k, although that model was powered by the older 1.9-litre engine and not the more impressive Multijet unit.

Look for Stilos and there are similarly tempting offerings. A silver ’02-plate 1.2-litre five-door was by far the cheapest we could find at £3000, but if you’re prepared to pay up to £5000, the choice is wide. There are some excellent-looking models, powered by 1.2-litre petrol, 1.6-litre petrol and 1.9-litre JTD diesel engines, up for grabs. There are even some attractive deals on larger Fiats. Four-year-old six-seat Multipla MPVs now start at £4500 on the private market, and current Ulysses, with room for seven, start at less than £10,000.

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